Foolproof Steps to your dream engagement photos
Overwhelmed at the thought of being in front of the camera?
Struggling to find a good location?
Frustrated over picking out what to wear?
Keep reading, because I have your solutions right here!
The most important step in this process is taking time to dream. Start by grabbing a beverage, a snack, and a notepad. (It's always a good idea to have your partner do the same and make it a date night!) I recommend keeping all of your planning materials in one place to keep things organized and easy to access. Next, it's time to take a deep breath and grab your pen. Ask yourself, what type of feelings do I want to experience when looking at my photos? What places in the world have made me feel that way? Are there any words that I want to describe my photos?
As a photographer, I always send an engagement questionnaire to my couples to help them through this process! Once both partners have participated in answering the questionnaire, I narrow down a list of location suggestions that best fit their wants and needs. While this post won't be quite as thorough, I'll give you some good ideas on how to plan your engagement session and have the experience you've always dreamed of!
Let's talk about location considerations!
Local or Destination? Keep in mind that your engagement photos can be literally anywhere on this planet- from a national park you've always wanted to visit or a helicopter ride onto a glacier, the sky is literally the limit. Think about what type of places the two of you have dreamed of visiting! Do you love waterfalls? The forest? Wide open planes or the salt flats? Are there accessibility needs to consider when picking your location? All of these are important ideas to consider when thinking about your engagement session. A location that resonates with both you and your lover will help tell your love story, and here's why: When you are in a place that makes you happy, it will automatically make you feel at ease. When picking locations, keep in mind that it's about the experience you and your lover get to have during the session! Taking in the sunrise over your favorite mountain or hiking down to a waterfall where you went on your first date will always be more special and more authentic to you than a location that is just trendy or pretty.
The key here, is to dream about what would make you both the happiest couple on earth, while time stands still for just a few hours, while the outside world is nowhere to be found.
WHAT TO WEAR + WHAT NOT TO WEAR; EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW.
- Be comfortable. Wearing something that makes you comfortable and feel confident is important! For example, your dress could be to dieee for and it could be so uncomfortable that it reads on your face in every photo. Don't misunderstand me, this is absolutely an occasion to dress to the nines and take photos with your lover. BUT- keep in mind the way you feel in what you're wearing! Is the fabric comfortable on my skin? Can I breathe comfortably? Can I sit down in this outfit? Can I actually walk in a five inch heel? etc. Even more importantly, does this outfit make me feel fine AF? Does this look make me feel confident?
- PATTERNS. As a general rule, I tell my couples to stick to solid colors for their engagement photos! Patterns risk being too busy when combined with your environment (especially for natural landscapes) and can actually distract from you and your partner, who are the stars of the show, after all. In a studio setting, however, LET's go for it. Paired with natural backdrops/solid colors, patterns are an amazing way to add interest or make a statement.
- Colors: Complimenting, not matching! Neutrals are always a plus, but skip over doing matching bottoms and tops. Let's pick some colors in the same palette and go from there!
- MOVEMENT. AAAAAALLLLLLL THE MOVEMENT. Picking clothing that has a little extra fabric will never disappoint! Flowy dresses and skirts will add so much texture to your photos. Also, when doing fun poses like dress tosses, spins and twirls, lifts, or even fine art poses, that fabric will flow in the wind and make your photos that much more dramatic! I'm a big fan of renting gowns for engagement sessions! One of my all time favorite vendors to rent gowns from is Raw and Golden Rentals. I have rented multiple gowns from them and they are always breathtaking! Dresses with long trains bring such a romantic, whimsical, fairy tale vibe that every love story deserves! So hear me out, even for one of your outfits, let's add some length and flow to your outfit. You won't be disappointed!
- The first step to having a super fun engagement session is going to be making sure you vibe with your photographer! Make sure you have a chance to speak to them on the phone, FaceTime them, or even meet them for lunch before booking your session! This is crucial because it's much easier to decide if you will work well with someone after having an actual conversation with them! Get to know how they operate, what their process looks like, how involved in the planning process they like to be, etc. This will help you to know what to expect, prepare you for working with your photographer, and allows you to relax knowing you're going to enjoy yourselves because you're with someone who makes you comfortable!
- PLAN AN ACTIVITY. Don't get me wrong, a beautiful landscape is absolutely my jam. BUT, let's plan something that's exciting to do during your session! You could do something meaningful to you like horseback riding, a pottery class, a sip&paint, or a picnic! You could travel somewhere you've always wanted to visit, see a new national park, or visit museums in the city. We can get pizza and go to a brewery, hike up to your favorite lookout, or literally go chase waterfalls. The possibilities are endless! The key here is to do something that you both enjoy together, and that you will have fun doing.
- Set up a day of pampering ahead of your session. Go for brunch, get your hair and makeup done (this is a great chance for a bridal trial, by the way), and take time to get get excited about your plans ahead of you while getting ready with your partner.
Go with the f l o w.
- Life has a funny way of sidelining the best laid plans, so try your best to remain flexible! You've picked an experienced photographer who can handle weather, road changes, park closures, and any other major/minor speed bumps. When you know that your day will unfold exactly as it's meant to, and that nothing stops getting good photos, you're ready to actually dive in for your experience!
- I've had couples only want to take ten minutes of photos because it started sprinkling, and I've had couples run into a downpour to dance and kiss and giggle. It's all in what you're willing to make of it. At the end of the day, your partner is there by your side. SO, embrace all that may come, and trust that the magic in your photos is from the love you share, not from the perfect weather, lighting, or scenery.
- Soak up this time that you've set aside to be with your lover. Allow what is, to be.
I am an authentic person. This means I'm going to show up as the dork I am, ready to rock and roll. By being myself, it gives you permission to be yourself too. And it gives you space to actually show up and be the main characters in your love story, just as you are day in and day out. I'm just here to capture it, this time. Being in front of the camera can be nerve-racking. Because I know this first hand, I know how to make you comfortable just being yourself in all of your glory. You'll forget that you're in front of a camera in no time. When you look back on these photos, you'll be able to see yourself exactly as your partner sees you. I have a special skill of showing you just how breathtaking, beautiful, and captivating you are.
My final piece of advice is this.
Take up space.
The photos you take will only be as powerful as you are vulnerable. This means being unafraid to laugh until you wheeze, shedding tears that threaten to well up from happiness, and dancing like it's the last day you have to dance. I believe that love is sacred and should be embraced fully, for all it's worth. Squeeze the hell out of your partner when you hug. Kiss deeply when you kiss. Really look at your partner's eyes light up as they look at you. Photos resonate with us because we get a glimpse into what two people are feeling in a given moment. If you want your engagement photos to really speak to you when you've been married for 35 years already, give the camera a glimpse into who you two really are in this phase of your lives. Love bigger than you ever have before, and take your engagement session as an opportunity to recenter yourself on love, and all the joy it brings to your life.